What are eyelid twitching?

Eyelid twitches are twitches of the upper or lower eyelid that can be felt by the person who has them and are sometimes significant enough that others can see it happening. Eyelid spasms occur when the eyelid muscles contract involuntarily. There are several causes of eyelid twitching, including stress, fatigue, caffeine consumption, and prolonged eye strain. Eyelid twitching can last as little as a few seconds to as long as several months, but it's usually nothing to worry about.

There are three classifications of eye spasms. The most common is eye twitching, which is usually the result of stress or fatigue. This type of eyelid twitching is usually harmless. The best treatment is to rest and relax, although it sometimes helps to rinse the eyes with warm water. It may also be beneficial to reduce caffeine or sugar intake if eye twitching persists for a long time.

Another more serious type of eyelid twitching is called essential blepharospasm. This is an unintentional condition that affects both eyes at the same time. As a result of essential blepharospasm, the eyes tend to close involuntarily. Muscle spasms can also affect the eyebrows and even the muscles of the mouth and neck. The cause of this more serious eye twitching is an abnormal nerve pulse.

Essential blepharospasms, when they occur, are more intense than a simple eye twitching, so they can be quite problematic because they can severely affect vision. For this reason, it is important to treat essential blepharospasms if they occur. Treatment may consist of biofeedback or medication. In more extreme cases, surgery or botulinum injections may be necessary. Botulinum injections, often called Botox® injections, paralyze the muscles and therefore can relieve eyelid twitching.

A third type of eyelid spasm is a hemifacial spasm. These, like essential blepharospasms, are more serious than eye twitching. They affect only one eye, but also involve a contraction of the mouth on one side of the face. Hemifacial spasms usually occur because an artery presses against the nerve that controls the facial muscles.

Treatment of hemifacial spasms may be similar to treatment techniques for essential blepharospasms. Botulinum can provide relief for spasms, but it is more common for hemifacial spasms to require surgery. In this neurosurgical procedure, the surgeon relieves the pressure that the artery is exerting on the nerve.

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